David Owen on the city (NY) and energy
January 9, 2012, 7:40 am
Filed under: Cities, density, Energy | Tags: , , , , , ,

From the lecture:

By most significant measures NYC is greenest place in America.

The average New Yorker consumes 90 gallons of gasoline a year which is a rate the country hasn’t matched since the 1920s.  … The national average in the US is 454 gallons per person.

82% of employed Manhattan residents get to work by public transit, by walking or by riding bikes. That is 10 times the national rate and eight times the rate for workers in Los Angeles county.

New York City residents individually use less energy in all categories than any other Americans  … If it (NYC) were granted statehood, it would rank last, 51st in per capita energy use.

The average New York City household uses 4700 KWH of electricity every year.  The average Dallas household uses 16,000.

As a result of all these things, New Yorkers have not only the smallest energy footprint, but also the smallest carbon footprint in the country. The average New Yorker’s carbon footprint is about 7.1 metric tons per year.  The US average is about 24 and a half tons.

Despite all of this, in 2008 Forbes picked Vermont as the greenest state in the country.  It’s a choice consistent with conventional thinking about what green is.  Vermont has lots of trees and farms and backyard compost heaps; and it has many environmentally aware citizens; and it has no crowded, big, dirty cities.

Vermont also ranks high in all the categories that Forbes based its analysis on, such as the proportion of buildings certified by the US Green Building Council’s ecorating system, the LEED system.

But Forbes ranking was unfortunate in my view, because Vermont in many ways sets a poor environmental example  … It has no truly significant public transit system other than its school bus network.  It’s one of the most automobile dependent states in the country.  A typical Vermonter consumes 545 gallons of gasoline per year which is 100 gallons over the national average.  The average household in Vermont consumes 7100 KWH in comparison with 4700 KWH in New York City.  Vermonters also use more water and generate more solid waste, back yard compost heaps notwithstanding.


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